Monument in McKeesport park gives late 'Poo' Burke his due
McKeesport's Healthier Community PartnerSHIP honored the late police officer Lee “Poo” Burke on Thursday morning.
Burke was remembered for his contributions to the Weed & Seed initiative in McKeesport Area schools during a ceremony at the Victims of Crime Memorial Park near the intersection of Coursin Street and Shaw Avenue.
The park was dedicated in 2007 by the state health improvement plan, Womansplace and the city's now-defunct Weed & Seed Department, which oversaw the state-funded McKeesport anti-drug initiative.
Burke, a McKeesport native, died on Feb. 17, 2009, of medical complications related to diabetes at age 40. He was a city officer from 1998-2009.
He was the Weed & Seed law enforcement coordinator, and was named Shipmate of the Year by the PartnerSHIP in 2007.
A monument with Burke's badge No. 228, sponsored by the PartnerSHIP and Willig Funeral Home, was dedicated at Thursday's ceremony.
The funeral home released doves, and the Rev. Jody Dausey led prayers and songs.
Bill Matuch, a retired McKeesport lieutenant who worked with Burke, shared that Burke often patronized city stores when he bought cupcakes and other food and drinks for the students in his programs.
McKeesport Hospital Foundation gave money to the PartnerSHIP for the development of Victims of Crime Memorial Park via the foundation's project safety logic model.
Burke was not a victim of violent crime, but many wanted to honor him, McKeesport Hospital Foundation director Michele Matuch said.
“All different organizations asked if we could do a memorial, something in his honor because he did all the programs in the schools,” she said. “He had this way with children. They loved him so much.”
Sherry Ward, chairperson of crime and safety initiatives for the PartnerSHIP and the city's former Weed & Seed director, said Burke was honored in a place dedicated to violent crime victims because of his message, and because he is buried at nearby Fairview Cemetery.
“He was always trying to get the kids not to be involved with violence and he tried to prevent them from going the wrong way,” Ward said.
“He was very dedicated, especially to the kids,” Bill Matuch said. “He wanted to bridge the space between the police department, the police officers and the kids. He thought it was very important that the kids would go to policemen, talk to them and not be afraid of them.”
Burke's daughter Alexus, 15, attended the ceremony with her mother Amber Kimmell.
“It just means a lot,” Kimmell said. “He always had a way to make everyone smile. He would walk down a street and you would hear, ‘Hey, Poo!' He was a good police officer, and he would try to do anything he could for you. This (monument) is something to show that he wasn't forgotten for all the hard work that he did.”
Allegheny County Juvenile Court's Community Intensive Supervision Program participants were among those who helped clean up the park in preparation for Thursday's ceremony.
Supervisor Keonte Campbell grew up with Burke in Harrison Village and was proud to recognize his friend.
“I knew him personally, and being able to come back and help assist with his endeavours and help volunteer and help the community was something that was gratifying to me,” Campbell said.
“Our kids being able to help the community was also something great for us. We have kids from McKeesport and all through the Mon Valley. We like to give back to the community, and we're very fortunate to help out with this endeavour.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Forward Township couple, Florida man arrested in drug sting
- Report identifies Mon-Yough residents who are at risk in train disasters
- Winter weather likely to shorten summer vacation, delay commencement in East Allegheny
- Suspect in multiple Mon Valley armed robberies arrested
- Mon Valley officials optimistic salt supplies will last
- Day of prayer at McKeesport church shines light on HIV, AIDS
- Wilmerding has big plans for borough’s 125th anniversary
- Duquesne police arrest suspect in robbery, get warrants in assault
- Public comment policy varies in Mon Valley school districts
- Clairton City School District seeks savings in food service management
- West Mifflin Area school directors lose committee posts over letter